Weighing In on Employee Benefit Plans

By AccountingWEB Staff
MetLife has released its "Tenth Annual Study of Employee Benefits Trends," the results of which confirm that despite uncertain and shifting times, the potential of benefits to help attract and retain talent are stronger than ever. And, as employees continue to struggle to make ends meet and to plan for a secure financial future, employers are anticipating growing employee dependence on the benefits they provide. 
Study Findings ‒ Employers
Regardless of their size, few companies expect they'll reduce benefits. Given current economic conditions, the study shows that:
  • 40 percent plan to maintain current benefits.
  • 30 percent plan to maintain current benefits by shifting costs to employees.
  • 10 percent plan to reduce benefits.
  • 20 percent have other plans, while 10 percent are unsure.
Employers appear to recognize the need and responsibility to help employees achieve financial security:
  • 75 percent said they believe that potential holes in Social Security and Medicare safety nets could cause employees to look to the workplace for help.
  • 54 percent agree that if that were to happen, it would create a responsibility to maintain, if not expand retirement benefits. 
Employers seem to be getting the message regarding voluntary benefits (long-term care, critical illness, optional life, optional disability, etc.):
  • 41 percent say that offering voluntary benefits is an important strategy (up from 32 percent last year). In addition, more employers say they're building a generational perspective into their benefits programs.
Study Findings ‒ Employees
This year's study shows that employees are highly dependent on workplace benefits: 
  • 49 percent say they count on their employer to help them gain financial security through benefits such as dental, disability, and life insurance.
  • 66 percent of Generation Y employees say that economic conditions are causing them to look seriously at achieving financial security through employee benefits.
  • 50 percent of employees said that getting insurance products through the workplace is easier than elsewhere.
  • 87 percent of employees who have disability income protection, and 64 percent who have life insurance, said they got the insurance through their employer.
  • 33 percent say they think the economy will cause their employers to reduce benefits.
  • 63 percent of employees said they "strongly agree" that they must accept great individual responsibility for their financial security, even though more than ever before, they're turning to employers for help meeting this challenge.
Study Findings ‒ Loyalty
Of special significance, employees' satisfaction with their benefits has a strong impact on their feelings of loyalty toward their employer: 
  • 61 percent who are "very satisfied" with their benefits say they have a strong sense of loyalty to their employers, while 24 percent who are dissatisfied with their benefits say they don't have a strong sense of loyalty.
  • 48 percent of those who are very satisfied with their benefits believe their employer has a sense of loyalty toward them, while 12 percent who are unhappy with their benefits say they don't feel their employer has a sense of loyalty toward them. 

On that same issue, the survey shows that employers continue to be out of step when it comes to recognizing which benefits create feelings of loyalty in their employees, and they undervalue the significance of such benefits as life, dental, disability, and vision insurance.

If you'd like to read the entire report, you can access it online
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